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Keen Joins National Cancer Prevention Workshop in Washington D. C

Standing in front of a solemn history of our nation is humbling. There can be nothing casual about walking through the Library of Congress, climbing the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. If there is a Congressperson or leader who can see the site of the Capitol Building without feeling small, no matter how mighty they may be, they have lost a very important sense of perspective. Continue reading “Keen Joins National Cancer Prevention Workshop in Washington D. C”

No Access To Banks Hurts Marijuana Companies. It Also Hurts The Environment.

The number of states with new cannabis regulations on the books is nearing twenty. States like Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan have seen tens of millions of dollars worth of sales in a single week. But the financial institutions are still wary. That hesitation doesn’t just hurt this growing industry; it also hurts the environment. 

Last month, Michigan began selling legal cannabis products for the very first time. In just six weeks, retail sales surpassed $10 million and generated $1.7 million in new tax revenue. All of that success came from businesses that relied on personal or small-scale venture rounds to handle the substantial investments that go into a successful grow facility. From the ground up, many of these firms have had no access to the financial support that nearly any other business would rely on to get started. 

Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and banks rely on federal rules, licensing, and regulations to operate. At the end of the day, most banks won’t touch cannabis companies for fear of breaking federal law. In some cities and states, smaller credit unions and banks have very quietly financed cannabis operations. However, that liquid capital stream has been almost entirely out of reach for marijuana firms. That’s put a massive brake on growth, but it has bigger consequences, too. It’s also hurting the environment. 

As we’ve discussed many times, marijuana growers face immense energy demands. Its lighting and HVAC demands are a massive strain on the grid, and that electrical need is expected to nearly triple by 2023. When companies cut corners and rely on outdated technology or press lamps designed for recreational use into industrial-scale applications, they don’t just waste their own money. They’re also wasting staggering amounts of electricity, and that added strain hurts both the grid and the planet. 

Looking ahead, we see banking protections as one of the most important pieces of legislation in Michigan and in any of the twenty states with legal marijuana laws. There is traction on that front. The SAFE Banking Act passed the US House of Representatives way back in September of 2019, though with some reservations. Critics of the bill maintain often confuse the banking regulation with marijuana regulation more broadly, a misinterpretation that has slowed acceptance of the Act in the Senate which, as you may have noticed, has had other pressing issues pushed to the center of its attention. 

We’ve seen first hand just how important cannabis’ reliance on energy is now, and with growth in the industry projected to skyrocket, what businesses have in place right now will dictate not just which companies will survive, but if our aging grid system will continue to be able to handle the load of growers and the general public successfully. By allowing banks to safely loan necessary funds to these firms, state and federal governments will benefit even more from tax revenue and let market forces work, without putting the environment at risk.

Start Smart, Grow Smart: Investing In Your Cannabis Facility

What’s the most expensive and wasteful investment to make? One you have to make twice. For marijuana growers, starting their sustainability and energy efficiency efforts the right way from the start is a key component to being competitive in an ever-tightening industry. 

The basic laws of supply and demand have played out in textbook fashion in the still young legal marijuana business. As more states enact legislation to legalize cannabis, supply us skyrocketed, causing prices to drop. And drop. And drop. The well-cushioned margins of Day One were nice, but enjoyed only by those firms already up and running. Today, many of those companies are feeling the pinch, and it’s not just from outside competition. These companies’ biggest battle comes from inside their facilities, where inefficient lighting and HVAC systems have kept production costs high and prices have slipped. 

Those firms are quickly implementing new, more efficient systems to battle the problems arising from lower prices. In an industry that sees so many factors and influences outside of their control, like legislation, banking restrictions, and limited licensing opportunities, production costs are often the one area firms can address head-on. 

As the old guard upgrade, newer producers have learned those same lessons and taken them to heart. Growers in the past 12-18 months quickly realized that the only smart way to address margin concerns over the long run is by making smart investments in fixtures and equipment right now. There are many lessons to learn for utilities, too. For instance, 4% of Denver’s energy demand comes from marijuana growers. With demand expected to more than double by 2023, both consumers and producers need to implement new ideas, new sources, and new standards to handle the load. 

We’re working with growers to make their facilities as energy efficient as possible, plugging in innovative techniques to make the most out of heat byproducts, recycle humidity, and make each light fixture do more with less. Technology learns and adapts, empowering business owners to take data in real-time and make better decisions in their energy usage and get the most out of each crop. 

Ready to grow? Let’s get after it!

High Demand, High Cost: Energy Foot Print Grows For Marijuana in Michigan

As the national rolls into a new year, recreational marijuana legislation across the country has gone into effect. Thousands of people lined up for hours, even days, to be the first to purchase legal marijuana in Illinois. It was a similar story in Michigan, who saw legal weed sales take off in late 2019. Demand for safe, regulated, and legal pot is reflected in the prevalence of new laws legalizing the drug and the tens of thousands of people eager to buy.

But there’s more to that demand than just sales. Marijuana is an extremely energy-intensive crop, and as growers have multiplied and stepped up production, their energy footprint has grown, too. In 2018 alone, a recent study found that legal growers used up 1.1 million megawatt hours, the same amount of energy used by over 92,000 homes.

That’s just the start. With another half dozen states legalizing marijuana in 2020 and more states expecting to follow suit after elections this November, more and more growers will pop up across the country. With demand high and revenue flowing, current producers will increase their output as well. From 2017 to 2022, the electrical demand of legal marijuana growers is forecasted to increase by 162%.

Going forward, outdoor growers may have some advantages, provided they have a cooperative climate. Indoor growers use up nearly 18 times more electricity than outdoor per gram of weed grown. They also emit over 25 times the amount of carbon emissions. That’s because indoor growers rely heavily on artificial light, heaters, fans, and climate control systems to control humidity.

In Michigan, there’s already an interest in regulating just how much energy a grower can use. For now, the state doesn’t even mandate reporting of energy consumption by growers. There are no Michigan laws to monitor or track energy use, a measure that Illinois did include when it legalized marijuana.

There’s a drawback to that lack of oversight, too. It’s the perfect opportunity to offer incentives and tax breaks to growers who do invest in efficient and responsible practices. By encouraging metered energy use, both private and public entities have the opportunity to invest in the most efficient firms who, as a result, will be the most competitive and successful in the long-term.

And that might be incentive enough. As more growers enter the market, the industry is going to get more and more competitive, and energy efficiency is going to offer the best way to reduce costs and maintain the current retail margin. We’re already working on reducing energy use, carbon emissions, and improving crop yields for both indoor and outdoor growing facilities in the Midwest. Tomorrow’s winners will be firms that invested in efficiency early; be one of the smart ones.

Renewable Energy in 2020

 

As we hit 2020, we’re taking a look at some of the things we’re most excited to see. Renewable, sustainable energy is the future, and that’s a future that makes a difference every single day; every hour brings us closer to more efficiency, better technology, and the next big breakthrough. 

Innovation is coming from both private and public sectors, driven by forward-thinking people and organizations. Every interested party looks to what’s next, what matters in their industry, and how to maximize investment to get the world committed to smart, sustainable energy production. 

In some areas, we did take a step back. The most recent federal spending budget slashed a number of tax credits designed to support electric vehicles. The $7,500 EV credit for Tesla owners will expire, a credit that was halved twice in 2019. The credit survives only as a $3,500 bonus for those who purchase a car from EV brands that have sold less than 200,000 in the calendar year. 

Still, that big budget has some bright spots in the form of extended credits addressed towards biodiesels, wind, and solar. Those credits are designed to slowly reduce through the end of 2020, where they’ll have to be re-upped before the bill expires. Some of the coal credits included in the bill include mining on Native lands, and they’re substantial. Experts say that the coal credits more than erase the potential carbon emissions cuts supported by the aforementioned credits in green energy. 

While that might all sound bleak, there’s good news. Solar is looking especially bright, no pun intended. At the end of 2019, the United States has enough solar energy production to support 13.5 million homes, and even with minimal support from the federal government, that number is expected to double by 2025. 

A big part of that success comes from the huge improvements in energy storage. The cost of lithium-ion batteries fell by 35% since 2018, and by over 70% since 2012. These batteries are crucial in facilities that battle the costs of sizeable energy peaks. As load capacity increases, the more cost-effective these energy storage systems become, and the less businesses rely on their local energy grid rates, coal, or natural gas costs. 

Additionally, those reducing tax credits might actual cause a surge in investment. With tax credits, currently set at approximately 30%, starting to decrease before their expiration, any businesses or investors will move now to make the most of that rebate. That means we’re going to be working to lock-in these credits and get projects booked early in 2020 to make the most of the credits right now. A $10,000 investment today sees a credit of roughly $2,600 in 2020; now is the time to make the move. 

Finally, energy demand is expected to increase. Across industries, energy needs will continue to rise, and renewables are now efficient and affordable enough to plug the gap. As these technologies become more pervasive, they’ll move from being a niche or pet projects to the default mode of energy production. Investment in wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewables will become more lucrative, drawing even more backing and implementation. 

There is a lot to be excited about as we head into 2020, and we’re excited to be a part of the sweeping change in the energy sector. What can renewables do for you? Call Keen and let us show you!

Michigan Renewable Energy Projects Up 57%

Renewable energy is up across the county. In our home state of Michigan, that’s no different. Renewables are playing a leading role in reducing emissions and increasing efficiency like never before. 

An end-of-year study confirmed what we’ve long known to be true. Sustainable, responsible energy is on the rise, and it’s offering an exciting glimpse at what’s possible. Renewable energy is up by a whopping 57% over the previous calendar year, and in 2020, that number could rise even further. That report, conducted by the Michigan Public Service Commission, confirmed that these innovative energy production avenues have increased every year since 2006. Renewables now account for nearly 45,000 kWh in the state, up 46% since 2017. 

Of those alternative energy sources, solar energy remains the top producer in the state of Michigan by some margin. It’s responsible for 94% of renewable energy sources, with wind power a very, very distant second place. It might also be worth noting that just two companies, DTE Energy and Consumers Energy, account for a massive 88% of all alternative energy production. There are renewable energy projects in every single Michigan county, except one. Only Luce County in the Upper Peninsula lacks a  renewable energy project as of the time of this study’s publication. 

The state has a long road ahead to eliminate fossil fuels. According to the state’s annual report, 10% of energy came from renewable sources in 2015. Only about 1% of the state’s energy needs are met by solar, while the state is offering up some encouraging results from wind. Michigan ranks 14th in wind power potential, which currently accounts for 93% of our current alternative energy capacity. 

We’re proud to be playing a part in bringing Michigan communities and companies into a more sustainable way of life. By improving energy use today, we’re preparing companies from across industries to plug into the new technologies and opportunities that are right around the corner. Keen can help companies save tens of thousands of dollars per year right now, and that’s only the tip of what technology and innovation will offer tomorrow.

Want an expert look at how your facility can save money and increase efficiency? Schedule a comprehensive energy audit today.